Evangelism is at the heart of what Christianity is all about. Right before Christ ascended into heaven after his resurrection, he did not tell the disciples to play keep away with the truth. He did not ask them to head back to their homes and act like nothing has happened. To lead comfortable lives. He told them to go throughout the earth with the good news of who Jesus is. In his last dialogue he focuses on the need to share the good news with people.
That is what evangelism is – sharing the good news. It comes from the Greek εὐαγγέλιον which is simply “good” (εὐ) + “message” (ἀγγελία). The verb form involves that message being spread, which is the whole point of a message existing. For a piece of news to be qualified as news it has to be dispersed abroad in a way that informs people. So, for the gospel to be the gospel, it must be something that is shared with others. Otherwise it is not news at all – simply another factoid that exists mindlessly.
So, in our current series on evangelism in the book of Acts we spent the past Sunday talking about the importance of prayer in relation to evangelism. In Acts 4:23-31 we have Peter and John returning from their confrontation with the Jewish leaders who demand their silence about the name of Jesus. How do the believers respond to the threats of the Jewish leaders? With Prayer. They come together and lift up their voices. They vocalize their need before God. They join together as one mind to make their request to God.
In their prayer they focus on the will of God in history. They quote Psalm 2, emphasizing the fact that God spoke about the rebellion of the nations of the earth long before this event occurred. This rebellion is not new to God. People have been opposed to God since the Fall. People have not desired to serve God. The nations (i.e – everyone) have been devising schemes to corrupt God’s ways and make a name for themselves (see the Tower of Babel). The only reason people end up seeking God is because the Spirit is at work in their lives (see Psalm 14:1-3, John 16:7-11 and Romans 3:10-18). The believers in Acts recognize that they are standing in a long line of believers who have suffered persecution from the hands of the enemies of God.
How do they respond to these enemies? Asking for God’s protection while they set their minds on going towards those enemies. This prayer is not, “God please put a bubble around this house so that we don’t have to interact with your enemies.” This prayer consists of the believers desire to see those enemies become brothers and sisters in Christ. For enemies to become family. They ask for ability to do things beyond their power, like connect the living word to dead hearts.
Evangelism without prayer is like driving a car without an engine. Sure, you could get by Fred Flintstone style. But let’s be real. How far are you going to get pushing it to and from work everyday? Prayer causes you to align with what God is doing, and causes God to move in ways that are beyond your strength. Nothing is impossible for him! Don’t be afraid to ask for him to do mighty things in your life.
After all, the good news exists to be shared. You will need help spreading it.